Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Best Albums of 2014

Better late than never right? Happy new year ya'll. There was some truly amazing music made last year. Here's to another year of the same. Without further delay, here's the list (no particular order). Let me know what you think. CNF lives in 2015

Ty Segall- Manipulator

Segall’s righteously grimy brand of garage rock continues to mature and evolve, as is evident on his latest release. This is undoubtedly Segall’s most well produced album, yet it still maintains his own distinctive style. This album is packed with party starting jams, that still maintain Segall’s psychedelic gleam. Some longtime fans might criticize the album’s use of enhanced production, however the more open minded listener will appreciate Segall’s evolution as a recording artist. Segall’s recording method has always been built around punky one-takes and catchy hooks. On manipulator (its title aptly alluding to the increased knob turning) Segall takes his time to perfect the small details in each song. The result might not be technically “garage rock” anymore, but its still raucous and visceral as hell. On Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF” Segall off-handedly revealed that he also played drums on every song of the album. That pretty much sums up Segall’s music: he makes it seem so easy and simple, yet undeniably special.

Foxygen- ...And Star Power

This album is such a mess! And I love every minute of it. For fans of the “white album” or Dylan and the bands “basement tapes”, or anyone who likes sprawling musical hodgepodge that are te result of their creators holing themselves off from the outside world and embracing the creative rabbit hole. These guys reportedly underwent plenty of turmoil and break up rumors following their critical breakthrough. Their follow up to that album is mind boggling in its inability to focus on any one melody or structure. Hell, one song might have three completely different section (a la “paranoid android” or “happiness is a warm gun”). Although the moments when these guys really nail might be fleeting, they can be stunningly gorgeous, heartbreaking, and on-the-edge. This album almost feels as if the listener is sitting in on an epically creative jam session, where everyone in the band is making it up as they go, but nailing every single transition and moment of spontaneity.

Pallbearer- Sorrows and  Extinction

I blasted this album in the car after driving away from a wedding. I was not in the best mood and it was exactly what I needed. The punishing power chords, gorgeous melodies, and agonizingly raw vocals suddenly washed away the residue of social fakery and shitty dance music that comprises the typical American wedding. From what I read, some of the guys in this band were going through some serious shit when they made this album, and you can definitely tell. Pallbearer’s music is like an existential scream into the void, followed by a gift to the universe in the form of some of the most beautiful melodic passages I've heard in metal.. or really any genre of music in general.

Sun Kill Moon- Benji

In my opinion, this was the most shocking album of 2014. I've never heard lyrics written like this before. The stories on these songs are alternatively some of the most depressing, heartfelt, and  comic poetry I've heard put to music. The raw honesty in these songs is impossible to ignore. The dude just speaks his mind, and he’s got a lot of shit to get out. Never mind his bizzaro “indie-beef” with war on drugs, this album is a work of genius.

Angel Olsen- Burn Your Own Fire For No Witness

This album crept up on me. After repeated listens it just got lodged in my brain, and I couldn't stop going back to it. The melodies of Olsen’s voice and her minimalist song structures are strangely ethereal and exotic. It’s telling that she has played on Bonnie Prince Billy records before. This was certainly 2014’s most forward thinking indie-folk album. Can’t wait to hear what else Olsen has in store for us.

Flying Lotus- You're Dead

So funky, dense, and cosmic.. flylo in his best form. K-dot’s guest spot was one of  the best rap songs of the year. I like this album better than his last one. The drums, the bass, the live instrumentation, Herbie fucking Hancock.. ahhhh its too much. So damn good.

Caribou- Our Love

Caribou went all out on the soulful dance tunes with this release, and the result was a smashing success. I think this album gave us the sleeper summer jam with “can’t life without you”. Caribou has come a long way since his folk infused electronic music of the early 2000s. His embrace of the dance floor and vocal hooks is a natural evolution for someone with his production talents.

Ariel pink- Pom Pom

Ariel Pink is another lo-fi standard bearer of oughts that has since gone pro-production. I am so glad that this guy kept his weird pass legitimately intact in 2014, some could argue that he got even weirder. Pom Pom is certainly one of the least accessible records in Pink’s catalogue, something which is rare for an artist that has achieved his level of recognition and success. The production is meticulous and on point, but the subject matter (LA sleaze, campy androgyny, and all around absurdism). Pink is doing a commendable job of continuing the tradition of absurdist musical vision al la his fellow left-coast predecessor, and fellow wierdo-man-man Frank Zappa.

Aphex Twin- Syro

One of the most pleasing moments of 2014.. we finally got new music from the reclusive and legendary Richard James. It was a delight to see his musical vision has become somewhat mellowed (as compared to his agro and angst-filled jungle releases of the 90s), yet meticulously refined. James is simply the best at this game. No other producer can match his obsessive attention to detail, melodic genius, and technical knowledge (the cover features an array of technical names of all the equipment he used during the album's production). It was good to see James putting  all these young bucks in there place, and letting them know that he’s still one of the most relevant and innovative electronic artists making music right now.

Brian Eno/Karl Hyde- High Life

Another late career victory. Eno’s collaboration with the orb’s Karl Hyde is an instant highlight of Eno's long and storied career. Insanely funky, minimalist, and other worldly. Eno is a someone that thrives on collaborations with other artists (Bowie, Byrne, Fripp to name a few). His production techniques bring out the best in others, and we see his musical vision shimmer and morph with each new collaboration. I love the slow simple builds on this album. The melodies and  song structures are deceptively simple. Eno will jam on one note for an entire song, yet build momentum through subtle shifts in sonic texture. No one else can make music like this.

Parquet Courts/Parkay Quarts- Sunbathing Animal/Content Nassau

Yes... it's essentially the same band. I wonder if Stephen Malkmus listens to these guys? If so, I wonder if he’s pissed, or does he dig it? In my mind, they are the best in the indie rock game right now. This band has a stark, no-frill sound, built on velvet-esque song structures, and a deadpan sense of wit that rivals the the disenchanted slackerdom of Pavement and Silver Jews.

Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

I was late to discover Sturgill. I listened to his album after reading some glowing reviews that referenced his use of country music to tackle some heavy existential and philosophical concepts. I was originally somewhat unprepared for  just how country his music actually is, but once you accept and embrace his thick drawl it begins to sound amazing. Sturgill is an old-school country singer, in that he keeps his subject matter bleak and depressing, yet does it all with an all-knowing smile. Simpson possesses an undeniable swagger that is a classic concoction of self-loathing,

Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else

My favorite part about this band- there are only three of them. Perhaps that is why Steve Albini graced this trio with his now mythical production wizardry (ie- turn the knobs to “shitty” and you’ll make a better sounding album). No one can match the level of catharsis that innately thrives within cloud nothing’s music. Call it an “emo revival” if you want, but that doesn't really mean anything, and this band is more straight up punk than anything. I really need to see them live.

Swans- To Be Kind

The much anticipated sequel to the jaw droppingly amazing “The Seer”. To Be Kind is just as bone crushing, immensely strange, impactful, and unrelenting as its predecessor. I think its somewhat impossible to “sell” this band to someone who might be unwilling to accept them on their own terms. To appreciate Swans you need to just allow Michael Gira and company to pull you into their alternately hypnotic and chaotic womb of experimental psychedelia, folk, country, and industrial music. This band is unrelenting in their commitment to follow any musical idea, no matter how strange, to its visceral and momentous conclusion (thus the 10+ minute length of most songs). Just got tickets to see these guys when they come to Richmond in a few months… it’s sure to be a heavy night.

D’Angelo/ The Vanguard- Black Messiah

Well this one really screwed up everyone’s year end lists huh? I’m starting to love these “surprise releases”, especially when they’re really really good like “Black Messiah”. This album, released a few weeks ago, marks D’Angelo’s long awaited sequel to his R&B masterpiece “Voodoo”. I already think this album is better than Voodoo, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best albums released this year. In my mind, the best part about this music is that its so freaking dense and messy. It doesn't sound like D’angelo has spent all these years slicking out every single detail of the production. Rather, it sounds like this music could have been made in a few weeks. It’s Sly and the Family Stone, Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, Tribe called Quest, and the  roots all rolled into one funky ass séance that has successfully resurrected r&b’s true prodigal son (messiah indeed- taken from Questlove’s reference to the soul singer as “black jesus” in his memoir). Bravo D,

Mac Demarco- Salad Days

Remember when “Viceroy” first came out? Remember swigging cheap beer and listening to “baby’s wearing blue jeans” on repeat to the effect of blissfully laconic  drunkenness? ...Well I do. I could never fathom the levels of popularity and indie-fandom that Demarco achieved in 2014. Demarco is quickly becoming one of my favorite living guitarists. Despite his goofiness and slacker-bro image, he has an impeccable sense for tight guitar hooks, and a completely original sound (I've tried to imitate it, but have no idea how he gets it).  Perhaps it makes sense considering his obvious talent and pencant for straddling the no-man’s land between hilarious and heart breaking. Mac Demarco’s whole thing is that he’s a loser who’s down on his luck, smokes too much, doesn't shower, but will always make you laugh. How does that fit with fame and widespread success? Jugding from Demarco’s pitchfork doc "Peperoni Playboy", it just equals more hilarity and beautiful music.

Steve Gunn- Way Out Weather

This is my other favorite guitarist making music right now. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve after a show recently and , and I can attest that his personality matches his music. We shot the shit, talked about our mutual love of reggae, and despite my awkward fanboy vibes he was generally a very chill dude, Gunn channels the fingerpicking spirit of Fahey and the improvisational chops of the Dead through his kaleidoscopic sense of blues rhythms and melodies. He also puts on a hell of a show (his drummer is no slouch either).. go see him is you get a chance. Also- if you dig this,m check out the collab EP he put out this year with fellow experimental folk-guitarist Mike Cooper on the FRKWYS series.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trouble Man Mix (3/4)

Last week marked the 30th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's tragic death. Thus the two bookends on this mix. RIP to a true legend. Flyin high brotha. Tracklist after the jump.

Trouble Man Mix- DOWNLOAD

Monday, March 24, 2014

Idle Hands Mix

It's pretty bad that this is my first post of 2014. However I will be attempting a strong comeback to the CNF mix scene. Shooting for one a week. We'll see how long I can keep it up. If I keep them around the 30-40 min mark, and don't try to make everything absolutely perfect, I think it can be done. Quantity over quality right? Always a good rule. Anyway, here's some tunes that I've been diggin lately. Hope you do to.


Track list:
Satan's Pilgrims- Shit Sandwich
Palace Brothers- Idle Hands are the Devil's Plaything
T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir- Like a Ship
Sun Kill Moon- Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes
Gang Gang Dance- Vacuum
Junior Wells- I Got a Stomach Ache
Jay Reatard- Fluorescent Grey
Ween- Laura

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mix: Dead of Night

Threw a mix up to let you good people know we're still around..

My man Beck says it all in this one:

"These withered hands have dug for a dream
Sifted through sand and leftover nightmares
Over the hill, a desolate wind
Turns shit to gold and blows my soul crazy"

Tracklist after the jump - cheers, y'all.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Will's Favorite Albums of 2013

Yeah, I know - we're a week into 2014 now. I can be lazy, and Ol' Man Thunda's year-end list is really what y'all should be reading...good on you for that one, Thunda. Great stuff. Still, I gotta get my piece on record here at the Non-Factor, so here goes. To try and do a little something different than my partner, I attempted to order my personal favorites of the year in music - roughly at first - leading into a top 10 countdown.

But seriously, if you want to really know what's up with the best tunes of 2013, do yourself a favor and read the first (and let's just call it the official) Complete Non Factor Year End List.  Cheers.

The Rough Countdown

Bare Mutants - The Affliction
Nguzunguzu - Skycell
Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus 7
Fuzz - Fuzz
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Smith Westerns - Soft Will
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
Beach Fossils - Clash The Truth
Mammoth Grinder - Underworlds
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Kurt Vile - Waking on a Pretty Daze
Jai Paul - Jai Paul
Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety
Phosphorescent - Muchacho
Danny Brown - Old
Bonobo - The North Borders

Now, After the Jump -- My 10 Favorite Albums of 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013

Taking a cue from my favorite music blog, and not assigning any order to this list. Albums are not sports teams, there's no inherent ranking that anyone can reasonably derive from comparing seperate pieces of music to one another. The other reason is that there was a ridiculous amount of quality music released this year, and trying to include or reject certain albums proved to be near impossible. So in that spirit, here's my list (keep in mind I'm only one half of CNF). No structure, just a bunch of amazing music that I thoroughly enjoyed this year. 

List after the jump

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TAKE IT BACK MIX- 11/21/13


All tracks released in 2013. Enjoy.

Friends- The Way (with Dev Hines)
Brian Reitzell and Daniel Lopatin- Bling Ring Suite
Blood Orange- Clipped In
Tim Hecker- Stabbing Variations
Duppy Gun- Press Boofka Press
Sampha- Without (Bodhi remix)
Daft Punk- Give Life Back to Music (Darkside remix)
The Range- Everything But
Death Grips- Ann Bonny
Trance Farmers- Purple Hay
Surface to Air Missive- The Heat
Obey City- Take it Back